Results tagged Marais from David Lebovitz

Clasico Argentino: Argentinian Helado in Paris

ice cream

I’ve come to realize that I’m not very good at ‘watching’. When I worked in the restaurant business, one of my cohorts said to me one day – “There are two types of chefs: doers and watchers.” Meaning that some chefs got right into the cooking with the line cooks, while others like to stand there and watch. I, myself, could be classified as a doer because I’m like I’m a shark: If I don’t keep moving, I’ll wither away.

I’ve kind of had my fill of watching and waiting, so instead of continuing to wither away, I decided to take matters into my own hands and deal with what I could control. This week the weather took a turn for the better in Paris; it’s always one day when the bleak weather suddenly changes and we revel in the hope that the cold snap of winter is behind us.

Everyone on the sidewalks of Paris is a little stunned to see the sunlight, almost walking around in a daze (including the number of people who refused to get out of my way when I was struggling to carry an iron pipe down the sidewalk and as a consequence, almost walked right into the butt of a massive metal pipe) but within a few hours, all the café terraces are packed – and not just with the usual fumeurs – but everyone craning their necks, trying to catch a little wedge of sunshine.

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Poilâne

pain Poilâne

I don’t think about this so much anymore, but one of the reasons I moved to Paris is that I could, whenever I wanted to, go to Poilâne and buy myself nice chunk of pain Poilâne. Just like that. Although I’m from San Francisco where there are quite a number of excellent bread bakeries, there’s something special about the bread at Poilâne – it has a certain flavor, just the right tang of sourdough, dark and husky but with an agreeable légèreté that makes it the perfect bread for sandwiches, to accompany cheese, or as I prefer it, as morning toast with little puddles of salted butter collecting in the irregular holes and a thin layer of bitter chestnut honey drizzled all over it.

Pain Poilâne

A week after I moved to Paris, a friend and I were invited to lunch with Monsieur Poilâne and his wife. Both were lovely people and Monsieur Poilâne was animated and still excited about the bakery he’d owned seemingly forever, which was (and still is) considered the best bread in the world. (I’ve never met a bread baker who didn’t use Monsieur Poilâne’s pain au levain as a reference point for excellence.) He took out a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down a list of places that he wanted to take me, which I thought was odd – yet rather generous – since the man had just met me.

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Candelaria

tacos

Luis Rendón is my new favorite person in Paris. And the guy who makes the tortillas is my second favorite (I suppose if I got his name, he might be the first.) But it’s Luis behind the great Mexican fare at Candelaria, a narrow slip of a place in the upper Marais that serves authentic Mexican food.

adding masa hefting tortilla dough

Lately there’s a new openness, a willingness to try something new in Paris, and to take other cuisines seriously. When I moved here nearly a decade ago, the Japanese restaurants on the rue Saint Anne were nearly empty and never, ever in a million years (or even ten years, for that matter) would I have imagined that there would be several excellent Mexican restaurants to choose from in several neighborhood.

But here we are right now, and it’s encouraging to see them not filled with folks from elsewhere hoping for a taste of home, but young people happily slurping udon or soba, and yes, even picking up burritos and jamming them in their craw. (Although I still don’t have to worry much about having to share my hot sauce with other diners in the vicinity. Except for my friend Fréderic, who can easily outdo me in burrito and taco consumption. Good lord, can that man eat.)

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Nunu Chocolates from Brooklyn, in Paris

chocolates filled with salted butter caramel

A few years ago an American friend asked me about opening a pop-up store in Paris, featuring something he creates with chocolate in New York City. At the time, I advised against it. People outside of the United States do have some preconceived notions about how Americans eat (many still think we all eat at fast-food restaurants), but a recent wave of magazine articles about food in America, small restaurants in Paris with America-trained chefs and owners, and most importantly, people traveling to the United States and seeing the astounding produce at the greenmarkets, I’d like to think has caused a shift in thinking.

chocolate tools

So I was excited to see that Nunu Chocolates from Brooklyn had set up a space in the Brachfeld Gallery in the Marais here in Paris, for a temporary pop-up shop featuring their chocolates.

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Princess Crepe

Princess crepe

I wasn’t on planning on going to Princess Crêpe, which I’d passed a while back and was intrigued (for lack of a better word) by their unusual look. Well it was “different”, as my mother used to politely make me say when something was out-of-the-ordinary. If we were in Harajuku, it’d fit right in. But in Paris, this is decidedly different from the rest of the surrounding area, the Marais.

I’d gone by the place a few times in the morning and they have “different” hours, open from 1pm and closing up a few hours later at 7pm. So basically they open after lunch and close just before dinner.

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Flat Bagels

flat bagels blog

Tradition schmadition. Something I’ve noticed every time I come to New York is that the bagels keep getting puffier and puffier. (Which happened before everything started going 3D.) When I eat a bagel, I want a chewy exterior with lot of seeds on it and enough dough inside to support a swipe of cream cheese. I don’t want a whole loaf of bread in there. Is that too much to ask?

Roaming around the streets of New York, I’ve seen bagels practically as round as a baseball and others as fluffed up as a burger bun. And I know you’re not going to believe this, but I even saw bagels with dried fruit in them. Oy. What is this city coming to?

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Merce and the Muse, and Mary

brocolli salad straws

[UPDATE: Both of these places have closed.)

One of the curious things that’s happening right now in the Paris food scene is a spate of what I consider ‘anglo’-style cafés opening up in various smaller neighborhoods. There are a few that have been around for a while. But in the past year, casual restaurants that sell leafy salads, made with just-cooked fresh vegetables and greens, house made soups, hand-held desserts like individual carrot cakes and les muffins, fresh fruit juices, and coffee made with care and attention, have been giving the normal lunch of choice for harried Parisians, les sandwiches—including the good ones from the local bakeries, as well as those from the unfortunately popular Subway sandwich shops that are rapidly invading France—a run for their money.

sandwich merce muse

Places like Bob’s Juice Bar, Cococook, Bread and Roses, and Rose Bakery are all packed at lunchtime not with homesick Brits or Americans, but Parisians.

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Les Jars

jars

I hope for your sake that you’re nothing like me. If you are, you’ve probably saved every single glass jar that’s ever crossed your path. (Don’t even get me started on reusable plastic containers, which merit a whole separate post.) Once something lands in my apartment, it’s there for the duration. Someone once attempted to give me a smackdown for advising my favorite people in the world, my readers, to cover their cookie dough in plastic wrap.

But little did she know that I’ve been using the same sheets of plastic wrap, and plastic bags, since my arrival in Paris many years ago, which I rinse and dry methodically. Believe me, if a plastic bag or jar ever exits my threshold, it’s destined for only one place, and that’s the Smithsonian.

jar collection

I have two areas in my apartment specifically dedicated to the preservation of glass jars. One is for jars I use for jams and jellies, and the other is for jars I’ve used for pickles, kimchi, and other things that are stinky. And nary the two shall meet: we all, somehow, have learned to co-exist in my tiny garret.

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